Ann Rice was the author who birthed America's love for vampires. She has written thriller/horror novels, but since 1998, she has turned away from her atheist perspective back to her Catholic roots. "Christ The Lord: Out of Egypt" is Rice's first novel since her transition.
Rice extensively researched the first century AD in order to place this story during Jesus' childhood. Jesus is the narrator. Jesus tells the story of his life as it might have been.
After Jesus was born, his family fled to Egypt to escape the wrath of King Herod. At age 7, Jesus started to notice the power of his prayers and the miraculous power his hands held. He turned a clay bird to life, knocked the life out of another boy and healed his uncle of illness.
At this same time, Joseph, Jesus' earthly father, had a
dream that the family was to move to Nazareth. The journey out of Egypt put the family in Jerusalem at the same time as the Feast of the Passover, which was an important holiday for the Jews.
King Herod had passed away, and his son, Archcelaus, was to succeed his cruel father. The people wanted vengeance from the devastation they had endured under Herod.
Jerusalem was dangerous as people rebelled against the monarchy, and the soldiers started murdering people at the temple. Jesus witnessed a death that he recalls many times throughout his childhood.
On the road, Jesus was frightened by the hostility he witnessed from fellow Jews. He saw brutal events, and he saw a side of his family he had never seen.
Once the family was settled in their new home in Nazareth, Jesus spent his days learning scripture in the Temple and working alongside his family as a carpenter. The rabbis thought Jesus was special, and they found favor with him.
The fear that had gripped Jesus since he had been in Jerusalem started to fade as he gained confidence in his workmanship and in his relationship to God.
One year later, the family journeyed to Jerusalem, again, for the Feast of the Passover; this time there was no danger. After the usual Jewish ceremonies, curiosity pulled Jesus toward the Temple.
Alone, he found a rabbi who was teaching; Jesus joined the group.
Jesus questioned the rabbi about a tale of a child born that the angels called Christ the Lord. The rabbi tells the story, and Jesus learns of King Herod's decree to have every child younger than 2 slaughtered.
Jesus was devastated to learn that many lives were taken because of his birth. He fell into a state of despair. He questioned his parents about the events, and they explained everything to him: the visiting angels, the trip to Bethlehem, escaping to Egypt, and the reason for the return to the Nazareth.
This novel is wonderfully crafted through historic events and Jesus' perspective seems true for a child his age. I would never attempt to place thoughts in the mind of the Son of God, but Rice has done her research, and she knows her scriptures. The story unfolds as Jesus realizes where his life is headed. Through Jesus' innocent perspective, Rice captures the frailty of his young mind and reminded me that it is not a sin to be fearful. I will read the sequel, "Christ The Lord: The Road To Cana" and am excited to see how Rice continues this story.
Caroline Dotson, of Downtown Books, reviews books for the Craig Daily Press and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.